the pitch athletic club and tavern rendering courtesy of the lawrence group

The Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern will open near Centene Stadium in St. Louis in early 2023

A new soccer bar, The Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern, will open at St. Louis Union Station (1820 Market St.) in early 2023. The bar will be located in the former Senior Julio’s space at the northwest corner of Union Sation, just across Market Street from St. Louis City SC’s Centene Stadium. A January 2023 launch is the aim, with the city’s new MLS soccer club set to kick off its inaugural season a month or two later. 

The Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern is the latest addition to the Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) portfolio of hotels, restaurants and bars. The hospitality group’s projects including the Union Station complex, Hilton St. Louis at the BallparkThe Cheshire and Westport Social.

Blaise Pastoret, director of restaurants at LHM, said he hopes local soccer fans will adopt The Pitch as their go-to bar on St. Louis City SC match days. “With the soccer stadium being right there, we obviously wanted to lean into more of a soccer push as well, making sure that soccer fans knew that this is the place to come.” The Pitch is named after the term for a soccer field, perhaps more recognizable to soccer fans outside of the U.S. “I didn't know this until I watched Ted Lasso, embarrassingly enough,” Pastoret confesses. 

Fans of other sports will also be well catered for – whatever sport you want to watch, there’s a good chance The Pitch will show it. Crucially for a sports bar, there will be TVs showing games anywhere you care to look. The centerpiece will be a huge ribbon TV above a shotgun bar, with TVs on every wall and seating arranged to ensure fans can follow the action from any angle. Some of the seating areas will have their own TVs, putting customers in control. “You’re going to have a couple of couches, a chair and your own TV,” Pastoret said. “You won't have to hunt down a manager or somebody to change the channel, you're going to have the ability to change the channel right there on the wall.”

At over 10,000 square feet, the space will accommodate around 200 seated guests, with room for about 40 to 50 on a patio. The patio will be on the side of the building, with three large swing doors opening up to the space, which will be enclosed by a wrought-iron fence. The main lounge will feature a look that Pastoret described as “comfortable, warm and weathered,” with leather sofas, chairs, warm wood, accent rugs and gas lanterns. “We don't want to create a fake ambiance at all, we want to make it casual and inviting,” he added. “We’re not trying to make it look modern, we want to look more like a European pub that you go to every week and watch your game.”

No sports bar is complete without some sort of memorabilia, and Pastoret said The Pitch will serve up a celebration of St. Louis sports teams past and present. Expect framed merchandise, jerseys and trophies representing names like the North American Soccer League’s St. Louis Stars and the city’s one-time NBA team, the St. Louis Hawks, alongside the Blues and Cardinals.

The drink selection will center around beer and spirits, with a small wine list. “We haven’t really decided whether we’ll really do cocktails or not,” Pastoret said. “We’re going to keep it pretty casual, so I don’t know if this place really lends itself to cocktails. But we’ll curate a great list of whiskeys, a lot of cool gins.”

Pastoret said The Pitch aims to drive a lunch crowd with a “very affordable” menu centered around sandwiches and appetizers, with a few soups and salads also on offer. An early version of the menu includes appetizers like chicken lollipops with Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing, Bavarian pretzels with horseradish mustard and beer cheese, large toasted ravioli and lobster Rangoon. That early menu also includes items like a turkey club, fish sandwich, pot roast dip, fried bologna, shrimp po’boy and Philly cheese steak. The bar will also be partnering with New York City institution Carnegie Deli to bring in deli meat and bread – the draft menu envisions a Carnegie pastrami sandwich and also a Reuben featuring at The Pitch.

Soccer fans in the U.S. treasure sports bars that screen live games from Europe’s major soccer leagues – mainly England, Italy, Germany and Spain. That means early starts on weekends come with the territory. To that end, The Pitch will open at 6:30 a.m. or so on weekends, with opening time on other days closer to 11 a.m.

Pastoret said he believes The Pitch will arrive at just the right moment to contribute to what he called an “epic” time for downtown St. Louis. “I can't wait to see that first game. It's going to be unbelievable,” he said. “The crowds that it brings, the energy, and just the bars and restaurants around there – it's bringing back the life to what Union Station really once had. And all of this is right next door to the south of the Union Station complex, all the stuff we've had for years with the Ferris wheel and other restaurants. It'll be a pretty cool, walkable area once you get down there.”